Back on the road and heading to Medan things were normal until I hit a bit of a traffic jam where a truck was trying to pull another one out of a ditch (not a terribly rare event in Indonesia). As I was stopped, I heard some squealing and the general types of noises made by overly exited teenage girls. Seconds later I was mobbed from behind by a pack of girls from a bus or something. They all wanted my photo (on their camera phones) with my arm around them! No hover-hand– they would grab my arm and put it where they wanted. It was insane- I just didn’t know what to do. As the traffic moved on, I had to pull over onto the side of the road to finish the photos- the girls were going crazy. With this, it had stopped being flattering (well, not completely), but had moved well into creepy territory. I couldn’t get my head around it and just didn’t how to deal with it. It really left me annoyed- was it just being a foreigner? Was it the bike? The blonde hair? Whatever it was, I was done with it!
Thankfully, it was the last such experience and we won’t have to discuss it anymore. So, onto Medan!
That night, after a long ride in almost constant truck traffic, I started my normal search for a hotel. And nothing! Everything was full- place after place just told me they had no rooms. Finally, I managed to find somewhere. Once I got into the room and peeled of my sweaty, dirty riding clothes and took a look in the mirror I think I found out why…
That’s not a tan- that’s grime from the truck exhaust! A quick check of my shirt showed a black outline on the bed where I’d dropped it. No wonder I’d had so many problems- I wouldn’t want me in my hotel either!
The next day I reached Belawan where I’d give the old shipping route a spin. This tried and tested route on a wooden vegetable boat was rumored to be closed, but it was really my last chance… And it was still running! The rumors of its closure were true, but only on the Malaysia-Indonesia run, going to Malaysia was still fine since Indonesian customs hadn’t started checking boats leaving… yet.
A bit of running around and a full morning in customs had my bike ready to be loaded.
So, bike dealt with, it was time to deal with me! I headed to the other side of the dock, through the petroleum terminal to find the ferry station. And around the petroleum terminal. And into the petroleum terminal… Turns out there was no ferry dock anymore since cheap flights had caused all the traffic to dry up. Crap, time to walk allll the way back… Until a transfer train pushing a huge load of cars blocked my path. And stopped.
Turns out, the driver had stopped for me! He’d seen me walking around and was fairly sure I was lost, so he stopped the train, had me jump on for ride through the terminal…
…and back into town, where he dropped me at a track-side market where I could find a tuk-tuk into Medan!
Now, just how cool is that?!
Getting to the tuk-tuk stop, I found them all empty- turns out they were all in the little food/beer/brothel houses backing the stop. Ah well, when in Rome… So I hit one of the houses, grabbed a meal with one of the sober drivers, took a picture with the mama-san, and then had the driver take me into town.
It wasn’t until later that I realised how strange the situation was- not because it was odd for Indonesia, but because it didn’t seem odd to me.